Our 2012 conversation with Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear.
This Tuesday, lawmakers in Washington heard from an 18-year-old who, against all odds, got his shots. Ethan Lindenberger, who fought with his own mother to get vaccinated, told senators, "for my mother, her love, affection, and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress."
That "anti-vaxx" agenda, the dangerous legacy of a thoroughly debunked 1998 study in the British medical journal Lancet, was dealt yet another devastating — though not mortal — blow this week, courtesy of epidemiologists from Denmark’s Staten Serum Institute. Their new study, which included more than 650,000 children, found that the MMR vaccine did not raise the risk of developing autism.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Amber Gorrow is afraid to leave her house with her infant son because she lives at the epicenter of Washington state’s worst measles outbreak in more than two decades. Born eight weeks ago, Leon is too young to get his first measles shot, putting him at risk forthe highly contagious respiratory virus, which can be fatal in small children.
In some sense I do appreciate the sophistication of Bill Gates’ science communication here though as I suspect that far more Westerners are his audience and a much larger proportion of them are uninformed anti-vaxxers who might latch onto the idea of vaccine-derived polio cases as further evidence for their worldview of not vaccinating their own children and thereby increasing heath risk in the United States.
It also not coincidentally is the root of the vast majority of the problems the world is currently facing. There are so many great quotes here, I can’t pick a favorite, so I’ll highlight the same one Kimb Quark did that brought my attention to it:
Before you crouch behind your Shield of Opinion you need to ask yourself two questions:
1. Is this actually an opinion?
2. If it is an opinion how informed is it and why do I hold it?